Punisher: War Zone

Here we are now, faced with attempt number three of transforming the pages of The Punisher to the big screen. After Dolph Lundgren’s disastrous first outing in 1989, followed by Thomas Jane’s 2004 interpretation (which for the record, I actually liked), Marvel have deemed it ideal to once again try to actually get it right. Do they? Sigh…

War Zone will not disappoint you if all you want to watch is non-stop violence that comes thick and fast, you want people’s skulls punched in, you want to see horrific torture, and you want to see more blood than six watchings of Hostel. To it’s credit, a lot of the action scenes were cleverly executed, yet some were just a tad on the unecessary side. But you don’t care about that do you, let’s watch shit go BOOM!

Those, however, who are looking for a bit more depth…well you guessed right, you won’t get it here. Then, The Punisher wasn’t always about depth was it? Let it be said that the script touches on the right waves, but doesn’t make the most of it. As I went through this, and being a fan of Punisher comics, I felt like it was put together by someone flicking through Wikipedia and saying “Yeah! That’s cool! Put that in there!” Oh, such promise could’ve been had with the inclusion of Microchip aiding The Punisher, Jigsaw being the main villain and the inclusion of the Punisher Task Force. As a nerd, I was rather excited.

I feel let down. Jigsaw seemed to be more of a comic relief than a psychopath. Shades of Pacino’s role as Big Boy Caprice in Dick Tracy sprung to mind. If they’d spent more time flushing out the character of Jigsaw, we’d have a formidable match up indeed. Saying that, Ray Stevenson as the Punisher seemed odd to me. I can’t put my finger on it at all, as I was watching, it didn’t seem like I was watching the Punisher, but just a rather tall guy in some combat gear kicking and machine gunning the shit out of people. I also found that like her role in Rambo, Julie Benz, as beautiful as she is, doesn’t get to do much than cry or be emo, and Colin Salmon definately struggles with the American accent.

So is it satisfying? I can’t tell, to be honest. Although the script is dire and some of the acting is wooden, those aren’t the reasons you watch a film like this. You only need to watch it if you’re a fan of action movies and are keen on some cinematic spilling of guts. Although Lexi Alexander has hit some of the right notes in translating some elements of the Punisher Max books into the film, she’s proved that despite being a lovely lady with kickboxing skills, she can step up to make a man’s man of a movie. If she got given another stab at the character, then let’s hope she can get a script worthy of Garth Ennis himself, as that would be the truest Punisher film we’d ever see. Maybe we should just acknoweldge this as a step in the right direction for now and be happy with it.

Two and a half fisted-skulls-on-a-door out of five

One Response to “Punisher: War Zone”

  1. Now I confess I quite enjoyed the last one as well and, though the last act was pretty weak, thought it did the kill kill bang bang (see what I did there?) pretty well. Oh and I wasn’t a fan of the camp Travolta villain either.

    Regardless I was rather disappointed Thomas Jayne didn’t return for this movie, making this almost feel, to someone who hasn’t yet seen it, like a spin off rather than a sequel.

    Will check it out though – thanks DVS!

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